Disciplined Approach to Adopting Agile: Four-Step Process

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Part 2

be changed according to some guidelines (tailorability of the SAMI is discussed in Part 1 of this article).

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Figure 2: Project Level Assessment - Stage 2 of the 4-Stage Process

In summary, the target level of agility is determined at the point when the assessment process discovers that one of the project characteristics needed to adopt a limiting agile practice or concept is missing, and neither the project nor organization can do anything to influence or change this circumstance. Figure 2 is a conceptual illustration of this stage. After the target agile level for the project is identified, the next step in the journey is to conduct an organizational readiness assessment to determine the set of agile practices (for the project) that can realistically be adopted.

Stage 3: Organizational Readiness Assessment
Identifying the target level for a project does not necessarily mean that the organization is ready to allow the project to reach that level . To determine the extent to which that target level can be achieved, the organization must be assessed to determine whether it is ready to adopt each of the agile practices and concepts associated up to, and including, the target level. Investing time and effort in this type of pre-adoption assessment of each agile practice increases the probability of success for the overall transition to agility, because it significantly reduces the risks associated with the agile adoption process. Even though this may seem as a cumbersome process, it is not. Organizational assessments can be easily automated and hence conducted very easily and quickly.

Similar to Stage 2, Stage 3 of the process also relies on the SAMI. The indicators play a critical role in determining the extent to which the target level can be achieved. To save time and money during this assessment stage, instead of assessing how ready the organization is relative to adopting the practices in all five agile levels, only those within the target agile level and below are used. The assessor uses the set of indicators (questions) associated with the agile practices to measure the extent to which each of these organizational characteristics are present. Figure 3 is a visual representation of Stage 3.
Each of these organizational characteristics is assessed using a number of different questions. Depending on the question, a manager or developer within the organization, or the assessor himself or herself answers it. The SAMI defines approximately 300 indicators to measure the various organizational characteristics related to agile practices and concepts.

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Figure 3: Organizational Readiness Assessment - Stage 3 of the 4-Stage Process

The result of the organizational assessment stage is a table that depicts the extent to which each organizational characteristic is achieved (see Table 2). This format for displaying results is beneficial to executives and decision makers as it draws attention to the characteristics of the organization that might cause the adoption of a practice to fail.
Similar to a project level assessment, determining the highest agile level an organization is capable of achieving depends on the organization's readiness to adopt the practices in that agile level. If the organizational characteristics needed for to successfully adopt a practice are absent, the organization is not ready to adopt that practice.

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Table 2. Organizational Assessment Results

Stage 4: Reconciliation
Following the organizational readiness assessment, the agile level achievable by the organization is known. Prior to that, Stage 2 had identified the agile level that the project aspires to adopt. The final step, reconciliation, is necessary to determine the agile practices the project will adopt. During this phase the differences between the target level and the organization's readiness

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